Sunday, August 4, 2013

So We Went to Europe: Leaving Texas

9Fine, fine, I'll write about Europe.  I know it will be a year in a week, I've been busy okay?  I'll try to get this done in a week.

First of all we had to leave Texas.  We decided that to save gas and give me an extra day to work we would tow the Camry with the 4Runner.  I didn't really think it would be that big of a deal.  But there was some vibration coming from the car occasionally.  With a helpful employee of some auto shop we found the source, some swing arm suspension thing of sorts.  They couldn't fix it then so I went to Autozone and bought it for $35.  It didn't look like it would be hard to replace.

It doesn't look hard to slide out, right?
I started working to remove the three bolts about eight at night.  With the assistance of an improvised cheater bar I finished that in an hour and a half.  Next came a pin that I had imagined would simply come out.  It didn't.  After an hour or so, after reading forums online, I gave up and went to Walmart for a propane torch.  Then I came back home for my wallet.  Then I went back to Walmart to buy the torch.  Another hour or so of effort I finally found success.  Fifteen minutes later the new piece was on, and by one o'clock we were on the road.

I might have been a little tired when I took this.  You see the dog sleeping?  And the car following too closely (every time I saw it in the rear view I freaked out a bit).
Look at the little angel sleeping.

Through the night we drove, stopping for Denny's-to-go about four a.m.  The next eight and a half hours passed relatively uneventful.  When we reached Van Horn I told Brea (for the third time that year) that I broke down there once.  Not quite a mile after I uttered that phrase, I noticed the temperature gauge sneaking up.  I pulled off into the first rest stop (a dirt area with a covered picnic table).  We stopped, the thermostat kind of exploded, or at least draining itself of all the liquid it held.  I called AAA, requested a tow.  During the hour or so that it took the truck to arrive, we discussed our options.  If we could get the radiator replaced in the next few hours we could possibly still make our 6 a.m. flight the following morning.  Unfortunately after calling a few shops we realized that wasn't going to happen.  I had resigned to missing the flight.  Then Brea asked if we could tow the 4Runner.  Though I had contemplated it the memory of burning up my last Camry's transmission, even with an aftermarket after cooler, was still pretty vivid.

This is how we started the day.

That being said, I am a risk taker.  And Brea thought we should try.  We unpacked the driver's seat of the Camry and took it off the trailer so I could drive to the auto parts store for a tow hitch that I didn't have with me.  But then I had to disconnect the drive shaft of the rear-wheel drive 4Runner (I had read about it earlier).  And in the process I stripped one of the bolts.  The next few hours involved me under the car with a tiny hack saw trying (unsuccessfully) to cut my way through the bolt.  I am not a mechanic.  I do not have mechanic's hands.  What that means is that including the previous night, the eight or so hours I spent pulling on tools was really starting to hurt my sissy boy hands.  And the back of my head was bruised from the pavement.  And I cut my head open under the car.  And my wife and dog were dying of heat.  Luckily a nice lady stopped and gave us a little water and a few other snacks she had grabbed from her hotel before she left.  We were slightly less miserable but still no closer to getting home.

Finally, luckily, Brea had enough.  Though I had prayed, she had us pray together for a help, really for a miracle.  I just needed a sawzall, was that to much to ask for?!  For another little bit nothing happened.  But then a semi pulled up!!  I asked Brea to ask if he had one.  And....he didn't.  After talking for a bit we found out he only stopped because he only saw Brea standing by the car and thought that the poor girl needed some help.  He checked his truck for tools and came back with a pipe wrench.  I took  it skeptically and....IT WORKED!!!  I wanted to cry.  Instead we just got in the car and left (accidentally leaving a handful of things on the side of the road).

This is how we ended the day.

We scraped the hitch a lot, drove twenty under the speed limit, but we made it!!!  The seven hour trip ended up taking about ten, but we arrived at Brea's parents' house around two in the morning.  Christin met us there, we dropped off our dog and cars, went to her house, showered, got a bite to eat, and then left for the airport.  Europe here we come!!!

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